By Alexia Lang

Once you’ve decided that art school is the place for you, you have an even more important decision to make – where to go to school.

Art careers are highly competitive and art degrees are becoming increasingly necessary. The right degree from the right school can set you apart from the pack of applicants and put you on the path to success.

So, it’s hard to overstate the importance of doing your homework at this stage. You will want a school that helps build a foundation for your career as an artist, challenging you, improving your skills, expanding your mind and inspiring you to take your art to the next level.

Here are a few tips for choosing the best school for you:

  1. Location and Environment
    Consider for a moment the location and environment where you’d like to attend school. Perhaps you really want to stay close to home. That will quickly narrow in on a few schools. Or if you are open to going away to school, think about whether you’d like to be in a big city, a suburb or a smaller town. Also ponder your desired school environment. A large school will have a different feel than a smaller school.
  2. Art School or University?
    There are many similarities between the education you might receive from an art school and a university. In the end, it will come down to the type of educational experience you’d like to have and what you plan to do with your degree. Generally speaking, art schools will focus on education requirements surrounding art, while universities will include more academia from other areas. Art schools might have more resources invested in specialized tools and experts in the field, but that also varies by school. If you are considering a university, do a comparison study on the resources that each school offers and how they will benefit your career goals.
  3. School Strengths
    Schools are not all created equally. With a little research, you will find that each school has its own set of strengths. You want those strengths to match the field of art that interests you – whether it’s painting, drawing, industrial design, animation, etc. Schools also have different equipment. Find out what sort of tools you will be working with at your schools of choice. Those tools will be what help prepare you for your future career.
  4. Faculty
    We all learn in unique ways. And there are some teachers who are really great at picking up on that. While some people overlook it, a school’s faculty should be an important part of your school selection process. Find out who teaches at the schools you are considering. Look them up online. Find out if other students like them. Meet them and observe a class. Good relationships with teachers is an important part of a great education. It should also be noted that teachers who are known in and connected to the arts community could help foster good connections for you.
  5. Cost
    No one really wants to think about money when considering schools. But it’s the responsible thing to do. Ask yourself how much student debt you are comfortable with having. If you’ve narrowed down your search to a few schools, make a list of costs such as tuition, housing, transportation, food, etc. And factor in any financial aid you might have been offered. Once you have the rough numbers in front of you, compare what each school has to offer weighted against the amount it is going to cost you. Sometimes a great education costs more. But you also might find that the perfect education for you comes at a great price.